Appeal from Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Family Division
Thomas Carlson, J.
Star, Middlebury, for Appellant Mother.
Allison N. Fulcher of Martin & Delaney Law Group, Barre,
for Appellant Father.
J. Donovan, Jr., Attorney General, Montpelier, and Jody A.
Racht, Assistant Attorney General, Waterbury, for Appellee
Michael Rose, St. Albans, for Appellee Juvenile.
PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Robinson, Eaton, Carroll and Cohen,
1. Parents appeal the termination of their parental rights to
son C.L.S., who is nearly two years old. We affirm.
2. C.L.S. was born in February 2018. During mother's last
trimester of pregnancy, hospital staff reported to the
Department for Children and Families (DCF) that mother had
repeatedly tested positive for illicit unprescribed
substances. She missed numerous prenatal and
medication-assisted-treatment appointments during her
pregnancy. She declined inpatient treatment or a referral to
a substance-abuse clinic.
3. Parents are unmarried but lived together prior to
C.L.S.'s birth. In early February 2018, a DCF caseworker
went to their home. Father answered the door and reported
that mother was inside sleeping. He refused to wake mother up
and would not let the caseworker into the home. The DCF
caseworker observed that father's eyes were
"pinpoint." DCF made several further unsuccessful
attempts to meet with mother prior to C.L.S.'s birth.
4. DCF has been involved with both parents in the past.
Mother has a history of substance abuse and mental health
issues, and her parental rights to her first child were
terminated in 2006. Father was involved with DCF from 2010 to
2012 due to his ex-wife's substance abuse. He worked with
DCF to retain custody of three of his children, all of whom
are now adults.
5. At birth, C.L.S. weighed less than five pounds, had an
underdeveloped esophagus, and was in withdrawal from having
illegal drugs in his system. He initially required a feeding
tube. Mother also tested positive for numerous unprescribed
illegal drugs. DCF took C.L.S into custody on an emergency
basis on the day he was born and filed a petition alleging
that C.L.S. was a child in need of care or supervision
6. A temporary care hearing began the following day. The
parents denied that C.L.S. was CHINS, sought a conditional
order giving custody to father, and requested a contested
temporary care hearing. The court continued custody with DCF
but permitted parents to have unsupervised contact with
C.L.S. while he remained in the hospital. C.L.S. was
subsequently discharged to a foster home and father filed a
motion requesting parent-child contact and unsupervised
7. On March 15, the court began a contested temporary care
hearing, which did not conclude due to lack of time. A DCF
caseworker testified that she had concerns regarding
substance abuse by father. These were based on her
observation that he had pinpoint pupils when she visited
parents' home and his refusal to undergo requested
urinalysis. The court ordered that father could have